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Facebook Overuse can Lead to Memory Problems

Sep 23, 2013 07:13 AM EDT

Using Facebook and other social media constantly can lead to short-term memory loss, researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (RIT) in Stockholm, Sweden, said.

According to Erik Fransén, one of the researchers, typical internet browsing sessions can interfere with brain's capacity to file all the necessary information.

Humans rely on what is called "working memory" or short-term memory to make sense of the world around them. A strong working memory means that people can store all bits of information required to complete a particular task. Other research has shown that kids with higher working memory are good at comprehension and math.

Staying online for long periods leaves the brain less time for "housekeeping" and can't clear the information clutter.

 "When you are on Facebook, you are making it harder to keep the things that are 'online' in your brain that you need," Erik Fransén said. "In fact, when you try to process sensory information like speech or video, you are going to need partly the same system of working memory, so you are reducing your own working memory capacity. And when you try to store many things in your working memory, you get less good at processing information."

Contrary to popular belief, the brain requires "idle time" to transfer data from short-term memory to long-term memory. So, trying to do many mental tasks only leads to information overload, which can reduce brain's efficiency in the long run.

This isn't the first time social networking sites like Facebook have been linked to mental problems. Previous research has shown that Facebook is as addictive as sex and has also been linked to anxiety, debt and even higher weight.

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